Will business kill the magic of design?

Design has finally made its way into the boardroom and established its place in the business world. But, asks Patrick Burgoyne, are all designers being invited to the party?

“We’re worried that there is this whole new world of design going on that we are not a part of.” This is what one of the senior partners at a well-known design firm said to me a couple of weeks ago. His business specialises in branding. While he welcomed the new-found priority business was placing on design, he couldn’t help but think that here was a party his studio wasn’t invited to.

For at least two decades, branding or visual identity has dominated the world of commercial design. Rightly or wrongly, it’s the work that students aspire to do. It’s what the majority of new design businesses specialise in. It gets the clicks and the shares. It sells books and fills conference seats. But when it comes to the new enthusiasm for design in business, the word ‘design’ often refers to something else altogether.